At about 10:17am directly above Jackson, Wyoming on Monday, August 21st, 2017 a total solar eclipse occurred. The first 1 hour and 18 minutes or so was just a partial eclipse. Then, at approximately 11:35am the Moon passed directly in front of the Sun blocking out the majority of the Sun’s light. For the following 2 minutes and several seconds, the Sun’s corona was visible as pictured above in the right image. After that the Sun was partially eclipsed until about 1pm Mountain Standard Time.
This eclipse was rare in that it passed directly over the United States, spanning a distance from the coast of Oregon to the opposite coast on South Carolina. This gave a significant percentage of the general public in the U.S. the chance to experience a total solar eclipse, an experience that most will describe as leaving them speechless. Indeed, a total solar eclipse is virtually impossible to describe with words, photos, and even videos. For those that did experience it though, they serve as reminders of a unique and profound event that’s forever etched in their minds. If you weren’t able to experience full totality, we hope these pictures, links to videos, and descriptions of observations serve as inspiration to catch the next one that passes over the U.S. in 2024!
The 2017 total solar eclipse was the first total solar eclipse in the continental U.S. in 38 years. The last one occurred February 26, 1979. Unfortunately, not many people saw it because it crossed just five states in the Northwest and the weather didn't cooperate like it did this time in Jackson! This year, probably 100 million people watched totality and maybe another 100 million saw a partial eclipse.
The center line of totality passed through 10 states. Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Nebraska and Georgia both got some totality, but the center line of totality didn't pass through those states.
Totality lasted a maximum of 2 minutes and 40.2 seconds. Maximum totality was far from the longest possible in 2017. The longest possible duration of totality is 7 minutes and 32 seconds. Unfortunately, the next solar eclipse whose totality approaches 7 minutes won't occur until June 13, 2132. That one will last 6 minutes and 55 seconds.
The next total solar eclipse over the continental U.S. occurs on April 8, 2024. The duration of totality lasts 3 minutes and 22 seconds on the east coast of Maine and increases to 4 minutes and 27 seconds in southwestern Texas. After that eclipse, we'll have to wait until August 23, 2044. That eclipse will only be visible in Montana and North Dakota. In 2045 we get another total solar eclipses that crossed the U.S. from California to Florida.
For more scientific info about eclipses check out the first 20 days of our 100 Days Until Totality Blog Series
For some incredible eclipse history check out days 78-55 of our 100 Days Until Totality Blog Series